Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Bones of the King


The Jacaranda petals lining the driveway tell me it has been a year since I started this blog to record my thoughts and galvanize my spirit as I attempted to transform myself by doing what made my heart sing. The process of unravelling the cables of habit woven over the years has been hard, but it is happening. The last year has been the most challenging one of my life and at the same time it has been the most rewarding. Along the way I've made many new friends and received a lot of support during dark times, often when least expected and most needed. To these good people, my Guidestars, I offer a heartfelt 'thank you'. You will never know the degree to which you have helped me weather the storm, but help you have and I am in your debt.

During the last year I have continued doggedly toward the goal of publishing my second novel, The Bones of the King. I'm posting the first chapter below so that I can take part in #teasertuesday, a Twitter feature that my friend Madison Woods turned me on to. Please help me celebrate a year in the life of my continuing transformation by contributing your feedback about chapter one.

Thanks for your help and your comments. They mean the world to me.



The Bones of the King
A Novel
By Douglas MacIlroy

The Sea waits for us all.

Her strong yet gentle arms harbor no purpose, no meaning, and no malice, only the complete acceptance of a loving parent welcoming home long wandering children. She is serene, enduring and patient beyond comprehension. The never-ending rhythm of the tides marks the passing days, but time holds no sway in her depths.

In preparation for today's dive no mistakes were made, no weaknesses left un-addressed. The sea exploits them far too quickly and spares no feelings in doing so. Day in and day out she demands that we keep an eye on the weather and maintain our equipment to the highest possible standard. The reward for this discipline is a temporary visa to visit the shallow fringes of a boundless and beautiful realm. It is well worth the effort. The blue panorama outside our view-ports is placid and inviting, the sea eternally beckoning.

She first called to me three years ago and I knew my time had come, but like a boy playing late in the gloaming on a summer's eve, I ignored her, not willing to let the day end. I slipped from her embrace and rose for an eternity in a slowly shifting silver cloud, found the sun and air, and lived when I should have died.

Since then the sea and I appear to have reached an agreement.

For my part I acknowledge that I am living on borrowed time. I see everything in a different light and pay more attention to details that used to slip by un-noticed. Each day is like a deep southern swell rolling in from the future bearing a cargo of potential and possibility, unique, full of promise and power. As the wave moves past and bears me aloft I try to find its peak. There, for a moment, when I can see the farthest and with the most clarity, and before I am lowered and the wave breaks on yesterdays shore, I search the water for my friends.

For her part and for now, content with me once more in her arms, the sea agrees to wait.

These thoughts bloomed in my mind like a flash of phosphorescence in the dark waters of that inner sea we all inhabit. I have had them before when confronted by the finality of death beneath the waves, and now, hovering above the stark remains of a life cut short, I could no more prevent their return than I could command time to run backwards. All that remained was to add a new name to the silent muster of the dead claimed by the sea. She does not care where the bodies come from. She takes them in and they become her.

The view ahead wavered as fresh water issuing from an outlet in the slope blurred for a moment the forlorn object of a long search. Thrusters hummed as I gently held position and surveyed the scene.

On a steeply slanted delta of white sand and rubble two hundred and eighty feet below the surface, a fifty-five gallon drum rested on its side. Below it the ocean floor fell away in darkness to the depths the barrel would have attained had not a line tied around one end snagged a lone stand of coral. As I watched, a school of tiny Flame Angels flickered into and out of several triangular openings scattered at random around the drum's wall and lid.

At this depth sunlight fades. The vibrant reds, oranges and yellows of the upper reaches are replaced by shades of blue and black. The mind works overtime to fill the palette with color, to restore some hint of light to the canvas. It plays other tricks as well, especially when forced to see things it would rather not. At two of the jagged openings closest to the sand the angelfish appeared to be ducking and hiding in the slowly waving tentacles of an anemone and I found myself wishing I could restore life as well as light to the desolation in front of me.

Floating up and out from the punctures as if yearning to return to the world from which they had been removed, long strands of blonde hair appeared soft blue against the hard darkness of the drum's black paint.

Light fades. Life changes form.

The sea waits patiently for us all.


  1. Wow. I had chills while reading that, and you took a turn for the unexpected at the end there. Love the way you wove two strands here, both tied to the same theme.

    I hope you will post another snippet next week. This was definitely worth the wait :)

  2. Allrighty now mate, you definitely have a gift of the literary type going for you. I now see the overt clues you have been so patiently preparing us for.Your powers of description portray life as both a fragile exsistence and ultimately so steadfast , for there surely is no alternative. The changing dynamics of exploration and the inquisitive nature of the human kind shed light on observation without judgement or advocacy. The descriptions of the new wilderness encompass sights beyond transient description , and make me want to know more of the vivid realizations awaiting in the deep, as well as in this novel of steady surprises.

  3. How do I respond to this? It is great. You have the gift of imagery and the patience it takes to allow your reader to see what you see, feel what you feel. Overdone, it can become tedious, but I think you've played just the right note.

    Lead us on, in small, hesitant steps like cautious, curious children. We know something awaits; we're eager for it, but it's a shivering delight to draw out the suspense until we want to shriek simply to relieve our tension. Great job, Doug!

  4. Dear Kady,

    I found your kind words two days after you wrote them, but at exactly the right time. Sitting down to write, I find myself encouraged and inspired to continue. Your support, in the form of the gift of your thoughts, is no small thing to me, and I thank you.

    I'd considered discontinuing the posting of chapters of The Bones of the King for lack of readers, but you've refloated Helen's Raft and ensured that there will be more to come.